I have a new book coming out next week, but I am going to resist the irresistible temptation to talk about it. I will, however, talk about a prominent element in the book that reaches far beyond the pages of my humble story.
In my new book, the main character seeks out the help of a Mississippi swamp hoodoo practitioner, or “root doctor” as they often prefer to be called. Hoodoo is different from voodoo, in that it is much more nature-focused and medicinal, rather than reading the bloody guts of disemboweled chickens or pushing pins into dolls to torment one’s enemies, as is the common theatrical portrayal of voodoo. Still, there is a definite mystical component of hoodoo that hearkens back to pagan rituals and pantheism. It may seem less “sinister” than voodoo but it grows from the same root.
I incorporated this practice into my story for dramatic effect but more importantly, to warn readers of the dangers of dabbling in these very dark, and very real, powers. Make no mistake: magic is very real, and none of it is good.
The world of fiction is much more complicated in regards to magic and spiritualism than the real world. In books, we find good and bad wizards and witches, evil powers being used for good and vice versa, spells, potions, rituals, incantations, etc., all being used for a wide variety of purposes and springing from countless sources. Some stories, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, employ magic in an allegorical manner to mirror Christian truths in our real world. Others are tales that are not meant to be more than entertainment but the incredible power being wielded in the story can easily be a metaphor for real-world power, such as wealth, intelligence, beauty, and strength, all of which can be used for good or ill. More often than not, fictional magic isn’t based on real-world religions and deities, because honestly, that’s not very “magical.” If God and the devil and angels and demons are present in the story, it becomes “spiritual” or “paranormal” or “supernatural,” which can have its own degrees of factual or fictional depictions.
However, in the real world, it is very cut-and-dried. There is no such thing as “good” magic. All good supernatural power comes from God alone. Anything else is evil. I know I sound like a grumpy old dad (and I’m getting there very quickly) but these are not my words. Consider the Word of God:
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:31).
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).
“Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15).
There are dozens of verses in the Bible which speak out against magic and sorcery, along with numerous instances in which sorcerers compete against the prophets and disciples for supernatural supremacy (guess who wins every time). There are only two sources of supernatural power: God and His angels, and Satan and his demons. There are no “fire spells” or “water spirits” but there are powers and principalities that are doing battle everyday for our souls.
I have no problem with fictional magic. Let Gandalf and Harry Potter and Tinker Bell do their thing. But as believers, we need to be careful not to let that enjoyment in our entertainment bleed over into real life, where even the brightest and happiest magic comes only from darkness.